Aside from a brief south swell, small surf will persist for some time

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 18th July)

Best Days: Sat/Sun: fun south swell in Northern NSW with offshore winds. Not much surf in SE Qld. 

Recap: Small, slowly easing south swell padded out Northern NSW on Tuesday with tiny residual swells across SE Qld. Today has seen very small surf across all beaches. Winds have been light so conditions have been clean. 

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This week (July 19 - 20)

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Not much surf is expected for the rest of the week.

We’re under the influence of a typical winter westerly pattern with cold but clear weather and very small offshore surf conditions. 

A small south swell is glancing the Southern NSW coast this afternoon, originating from a brief fetch of W/SW gales exiting eastern Bass Strait last night, but it’s not producing much surf and probably won’t do a whole lot across Northern NSW either. South swell magnets may pick up a few minor waves into Thursday morning but by and large we’ll continue to see small residual energy across the region.

Winds will freshen from the NW, then N throughout Thursday and may generate a minor N’ly windswell for exposed beaches into Friday but it won’t have any worthwhile size. Winds will maintain strength from the NW through Friday ahead of a late W/SW change as a front crosses the coast. On the whole, keep your expectations very, very low for the next few days.

This weekend (July 21 - 22)

Model guidance still has a strong front tracking through the lower Tasman Sea overnight Friday but recent runs have tweaked the alignment more towards a zonal pattern (west-east), which has downgraded our surf potential. 

Although lingering SW thru' S/SW winds may retain some strength across some exposed coasts early Saturday morning, we’re looking at mainly offshore winds for the whole weekend right across the region, possible variable into the afternoons.

Fresh southerly swell should build up to 3-4ft at south facing beaches south of Byron during Saturday, probably reaching a peak late afternoon or early Sunday - so expect smaller surf either side of this peak (early Saturday, late Sunday).

Locations not open to the south will be much smaller during this period, and I’m doubtful that most SE Qld beaches will pick up any energy at all. Exposed northern ends will be your best bet on Sunday morning with a few stray 2ft+ sets across the northern Gold Coast, a little smaller on the northern Sunshine Coast beaches. Elsewhere, it’ll remain tiny.

Next week (July 23 onwards)

There’s not much surf on the longer term outlook.

A weak trough is expected to form in the northern Tasman Sea early next week, and although it won’t be especially aligned for our region, we should see a small spread of mid-range SE swell around Tuesday or maybe Wednesday, best suited to SE Qld and Far Northern NSW (let’s peg the open beaches around 2ft+, and hope for an upgrade).

Otherwise, the Long Wave Trough will amplify over Western Australia around this time, which will bring about an extended period of N’ly thru’ W’ly winds for our region. We’ll see this cycle strengthen and abate several times through the first half of next week but with no local swell prospects.

A brief front exiting Bass Strait on Wednesday may kick up a minor mid-week S’ly swell for Northern NSW’s south swell magnets, but again, nothing major is expected.

Let’s hope Friday’s updated charts have more promise!


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 20 Jul 2018 at 5:57am

Keep an eye out for a possible small pulse of very long period south swell across Northern NSW south swell magnets today. It unexpectedly provided some infrequent 3ft sets in Sydney late yesterday (as per Chris' comments in the Southern NSW Forecaster Notes), and although it'll barely glance the Northern NSW coast, it can't be ruled out as a possible source of surf.

There's nothing showing on the buoys (north of Seal Rocks) though, which makes me think that it won't eventuate. But, it's still worth mentioning here.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Friday, 20 Jul 2018 at 4:48pm

Was a no show today at a south magnet that often gets these type of swells.

redmondo's picture
redmondo's picture
redmondo commented Friday, 20 Jul 2018 at 4:17pm

It must be hard being a forecaster expected to conjure up swells and deliver good news. But I do think we deserve free tickets to the wave pool if there is a prolonged flat spell